November 14, 2012

Is It Wrong to Sing Scripture?


In case I have never mentioned it here, I am just a little bit OCD. Now my wife may disagree with me and say I am far more than just a little bit OCD. Regardless of the degree of my acute attention to detail, my need for things to be a certain way recently took me to a place where I encountered something I had never considered and forced me to think deeply about worship, and scripture, and the Gospel.

Confused? Intrigued? Interested?

Maybe some of all three will let me unpack this a little bit for you and share the brief journey that brought me to this place of exploring the trisection of singing, the Bible, and the Gospel.

Several weeks ago my wife and I visited a new church. We are in the midst of being part of the planting of a new church and we were looking for a place to attend for weekly worship until we get deeper into the planting stages. So, we were at this church that Sunday and after service I went downstairs to get our son from the nursery while Stephanie went to the welcome desk and got a first time visitor's bag. Inside the bag was a CD.

That night I went to rip the CD into iTunes on my computer. Well, this is one place where my OCD really manifests; I have to have album art for each album on my computer and iPod. This album was by a nationally known worship leader, but it was just a local small release, so I was not able to find the album art anywhere online. I tried googling everything I could think of, but to no avail. I finally gave up and scanned the album cover into my computer to get the image to save as album art.

Told you I was slightly OCD.

Well, it was in that googling that I came across a blog about a certain song from this particular worship leader. Now this song has long been my favorite from this worship leader, so I went to the blog. The post was condemning this song and saying we should not sing it because it never mentioned Christ or the cross. It called the song wrong and unbiblical.

The major problem with this is this song is taken straight from the 24th Psalm. It is singing scripture. Now, does it mention the cross or Christ directly? No, but neither does that Psalm. Does this song sing of themes that relate to the Gospel and find their fulfillment in the Gospel? Yes it does, much like this Psalm points to the Gospel.

It is ideas like this where we find the Gospel movement at an ugly point. I love the Gospel-centered movement that is currently going on within Evangelicalism. However, it can lead to weird places like this.

The Gospel is the good news that Christ has come and overcome death so that we can commune with the Father. I love the Gospel, but the Gospel is the means for us to get to God. We should love the Gospel because of what it is, but not love it so much that we take it above our love for God, because when we do that we are completely missing the point of the Gospel.

To raise the banner of Gospel, Gospel, Gospel so high that it causes us to reject singing scripture because it does not implicitly mention the cross is to deny the very Gospel we are claiming to follow and love. To do this would take us to a place where we could not even sing “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty" with the angels in heaven. To use twitter vernacular here, #SMH (this means shaking my head).

Yes I love the Gospel, but I love the Gospel because it takes me into the presence of the Holy Triune God. The Gospel should always inform all of our life and actions, yet it should never cut so deep that it prevents us from following parts of the Bible, because if it does, the Gospel has ceased being the Gospel and instead is a form a self-righteousness and legalism.

So is it ever wrong to sing scripture?

No, sing the truths and promises of God from all of scripture wholeheartedly and passionately.

CC Image • rachel_titiriga on Flickr

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